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Are Paper Greeting Cards Going Out Of Style?

Are you planning to buy and mail actual paper holiday cards this year? If so, you’re part of a quickly-shrinking minority. 

Cards used to be required for thank you’s, birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, and other special occasions. But these days, people are more likely to send a text or an e-card, or post their season’s greetings on your Facebook wall. In fact, they seem to be saving physical cards only for extra-special events – say, taped to a wedding gift, or carried to a birthday party they actually attend. And the statistics prove it. 

Over the past decade, the number of greeting cards sold has dropped 17%. But even when people do buy cards, their shopping habits have changed. Instead of searching the aisles for the perfect greeting card. People are more likely to customize cards online, while uploading their own images and words. And high-end paper stores are helping customers design their own cards with software that used to be only available to professional graphic designers.

A lot of people are also using websites where you can customize and personalize a card for any occasion. And then they’ll print it out, slap a stamp on it, and send it out, like Notes by Mail. 

Even Judith Martin, who’s also known as advice columnist “Miss Manners,” is okay with the change. She says the only situations that still require something handwritten are thank-you notes for a gift, or a job interview. And of course, nothing beats a card on Valentine’s day.  Read more [+]

Not Sure If He’s “The One?” Ask!

Ladies, if you’d like a surefire way to tell when you’ve found “The One” – we’ve got it: See whether he’s gotten a thumbs-up from your friends and family! Why? Because if the people who care most about you – and know you the best – feel you’re good together, odds are, you’ve found a good match.

Dr. Benjamin Lee writes for the Science Of Love website. And he says, people are usually overly optimistic about their relationships. Because, when it comes to our own love lives, we can have blinders on. We may overlook the bad things trying to make a relationship work – because we’re trying to protect our own self-esteem. No one wants to think they’re not a good judge of character – so we think our relationships are better than they actually are.

Basically – love is blind but your friends aren’t. And even though your friends and family might not see everything that goes on in your relationship, they probably know the important stuff – and more importantly can see how you two behave when you’re together. Your friends aren’t under any psychological pressure to fool themselves about your relationship. So, if you really want a solid perspective on your relationship – ask your friends what they think.

If your friends like him, odds are it’s a good match. In a study, a woman’s friends could predict the fate of a couple’s relationship better than the couple themselves. So, go ahead and listen to your friends’ advice. Read more [+]

Read People’s Body Language!

People don’t have to open their mouths to talk. Allan and Barbara Pease wrote the Definitive Book of Body Language, and they say by learning to interpret subtle body language cues, you can read what people are telling you, even when they don’t say a word. Here’s what they say you should look for:

  • Your spouse. If you’re talking about family finances with your partner and they suddenly look away or seem preoccupied – don’t worry. They’re not ignoring you. This gesture usually means that they’re paying attention, but they disagree with what you’re saying – and they’re trying to hide it. So, if you see them do that, ask them what they believe the pros and cons of your suggestion are. That’ll give them the permission they might feel they need to be brutally honest.


  • What about your teenager? Think they threw a party while you were away? Ask them. If they scratch their nose, cover their mouth, or get fidgety, chances are there were a dozen kids hanging from the chandelier. Lying releases histamines in the body making people feel itchy. And the stress hormones released give a person extra energy that gets released through fidgeting. And a classic psychological sign is covering the mouth – as if they’re trying to hide what they’re saying.


  • Your boss will be more willing to talk about your raise when they’re in an OPEN position: leaning forward in their chair, one foot slightly in front of the other, with their head up. If you approach your boss and they fall into this position, go for it. But beware of what the book calls the “figure four leg cramp.” That’s when your boss is sitting with the ankle of one leg resting on the knee of the other, with both hands clenching the shin. This indicates a hostile attitude, and they might not be interested in hearing opinions that don’t match their own. So, if your boss assumes this position when you approach them – save your request for another day. Read more [+]

U.S. reverses stance on treaty to regulate arms trade

By Arshad Mohammed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States reversed policy on Wednesday and said it would back launching talks on a treaty to regulate arms sales as long as the talks operated by consensus, a stance critics said gave every nation a veto.

The decision, announced in a statement released by the U.S. State Department, overturns the position of former President George W. Bush’s administration, which had opposed such a treaty on the grounds that national controls were better.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States would support the talks as long as the negotiating forum, the so-called Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, “operates under the rules of consensus decision-making.”

“Consensus is needed to ensure the widest possible support for the Treaty and to avoid loopholes in the Treaty that can be exploited by those wishing to export arms irresponsibly,” Clinton said in a written statement.

While praising the Obama administration’s decision to overturn the Bush-era policy and to proceed with negotiations to regulate conventional arms sales, some groups criticized the U.S. insistence that decisions on the treaty be unanimous.

“The shift in position by the world’s biggest arms exporter is a major breakthrough in launching formal negotiations at the United Nations in order to prevent irresponsible arms transfers,” Amnesty International and Oxfam International said in a joint statement.

However, they said insisting that decisions on the treaty be made by consensus “could fatally weaken a final deal.”

“Governments must resist US demands to give any single state the power to veto the treaty as this could hold the process hostage during the course of negotiations. We call on all governments to reject such a veto clause,” said Oxfam International’s policy adviser Debbie Hillier.

The proposed legally binding treaty would tighten regulation of, and set international standards for, the import, export and transfer of conventional weapons.

Supporters say it would give worldwide coverage to close gaps in existing regional and national arms export control systems that allow weapons to pass onto the illicit market.

Nations would remain in charge of their arms export control arrangements but would be legally obliged to assess each export against criteria agreed under the treaty. Governments would have to authorize transfers in writing and in advance.

The main opponent of the treaty in the past was the U.S. Bush administration, which said national controls were better. Last year, the United States accounted for more than two-thirds of some $55.2 billion in global arms transfer deals.

Arms exporters China, Russia and Israel abstained last year in a U.N. vote on the issue.

The proposed treaty is opposed by conservative U.S. think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, which said last month that it would not restrict the access of “dictators and terrorists” to arms but would be used to reduce the ability of democracies such as Israel to defend their people.

The U.S. lobbying group the National Rifle Association has also opposed the treaty.

A resolution before the U.N. General Assembly is sponsored by seven nations including major arms exporter Britain. It calls for preparatory meetings in 2010 and 2011 for a conference to negotiate a treaty in 2012.

(Editing by Eric Beech) Read more [+]

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